The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir returned home abruptly before the conclusion of the HIV summit that took place in the Nigerian capital of Abuja amid controversy over his attendance.
A Sudanese diplomat who would not give his name told The Associated Press that Bashir left at 3 p.m. Monday, less than 24 hours after he arrived and in the middle of a two-day summit ending Tuesday.
But he denied that Bashir’s hasty departure was related to demands for his arrest.
Another Sudanese diplomat attributed Bashir’s sudden departure to other engagements.
“He has left. He left in the afternoon (on Monday),” Mohammed Moiz, spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in Nigeria, told Agence France Presse (AFP) but gave no further details on the other engagement.
The Nigeria Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) issued a statement today condemning the government for hosting the Sudanese leader who is wanted by the ICC in connection with war crimes committed in Darfur.
NCICC said that Nigeria’s failure to arrest Bashir “will be a brazen disregard of its international treaty obligation under Article 89 of the Rome Statute of the ICC which it has ratified since 2001”
“Such failure also undermines the pursuit of international justice, peace and security which are the objectives of the ICC” the group said.
The group also revealed that it has filed a suit at the Federal high court Abuja seeking a domestic arrest warrant for Bashir.
“The judiciary in this country has the responsibility to implement legal obligations created by treaties undertaken by Nigeria. As a state party to the Rome statute of the ICC, Nigeria is under legal obligation to execute within its national jurisdiction the arrest warrants issued by the trial chamber of the ICC against Mr Al Bashir while in its national territory”.
The British government also released a statement expressing disappointment at Nigeria.
“The UK has a strong and abiding bilateral relationship with Nigeria. I am therefore disappointed that Nigeria has chosen to host President Al Bashir of Sudan at an African Union event, despite International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against him for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This undermines the work of the ICC and sends the victims a dismaying message that the accountability they are waiting for will be delayed further,” said the UK Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds
Abuja defended its decision to host Bashir saying it is abiding by AU decisions that instructs members not to cooperate with ICC in executing the warrant against the Sudanese president.
The minister of health Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, who accompanied Bashir to the summit, described the summit as a success adding that Sudan has played a crucial role with regards to establishing a roadmap to protect HIV+ individuals and simplifying efforts to combat this virus and others including Malaria and Tuberculosis.
He went on to say that resolutions issued in previous summits have been reaffirmed such as linking healthcare to development.